The guardian of Pakistan's values: Ansar Abbasi
Oh wow. We’ve all become so used to the hyperbole of the Western and local language English press around Pakistan Fashion Weeks, that it is sometimes easy to forget how a significant section of society in Pakistan views them. And who better to represent that view than our intrepid Khalifa-ul-Waqt, Ansar Abbasi, who can and will hold forth on anything.
Below is a translation of his Urdu op-ed piece published in today’s Jang (thanks to @tazeen for drawing my attention to it). It is worth a read, not only because it provides a window to the mindset of Abbasi and possibly many, many others. But also because it draws attention, once again, to the linguistic divide that separates the English reading public and non-English reading public, a divide that is not only tolerated but pandered to. (It is extremely unlikely you would ever read anything like this article in the Jang group’s English paper The News or any other English-language paper for that matter.) This article serves to remind you, if anything, that all those post-modernist assumptions about progress in how the role of women in society is discussed, are merely hollow assumptions. Or at least that all those debates have passed Abbasi by without disturbing even a hair in his beard.
I have also yet to understand the mindset of the Jang Group, which launches Amn Ki Asha with great fanfare on the one hand, and has no qualms on the other in making petty-minded jabs about Gandhi and India on Geo on the other (see their coverage of US President Obama’s visit to Gandhi’s samadi). It will willingly tone down the anti-West moral brigade in The News or on Geo, but allow them free rein in Jang. It will make Geo a media partner of the Fashion Week and provide it wide publicity and, at the same time, run such incendiary pieces about it in its publications (and make no mistake, this article is a call to disruptive action)… Do they really think this is what is meant by ‘letting a thousand flowers bloom’?
In any case, here’s the article in translation (and here I thought I’d leave the Fashion Week alone):
If Modesty Does Not Remain…
By Ansar Abbasi
“The racket of spreading obscenity and immodesty through fashion shows and catwalks that is fast gaining strength in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the name of “enlightened thought”, if immediate action is not taken to stop it, this fire of obscenity will soon engulf civilized households as well. We too will soon cross the extremes of uncivilized behavior and ignorance which have led to the destruction of moral values in Western societies, and where animalistic values have reached such heights that children often do not know their father’s name. Men and women prefer to live together without marriage, whereas the trend of men marrying men and women marrying women is gaining ground. Obscenity and vulgarity have lost their meaning altogether in these societies and have become part of their rituals and tradition which now have legal and moral sanction. For such uncivilized behaviour and ignorance to exist in an un-Islamic and heathen society is not surprising. But for such sort of trends to be nurtured in an Islamic society and in a country founded in the name of Islam is indeed worthy of giving pause for thought.
Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH) decreed that each religion has its own defining value and Islam’s defining value is modesty. In Surah-e-Nur and Surah-e-Ahzab, Allah instructs believers to guard their gaze and their reputations, while women believers have been told in clear terms what their dress code should be and in what state of dress they should leave their homes. In Surah-e-Ahzab, the lack of purdah has been likened to the time of Jahiliyya [ignorance] when women used to dress up and make up to go outside their homes. But it is the height of sadness, that despite Allah’s and his Prophet (PBUH)’s clear directions regarding modesty and the lack of purdah, in Karachi, the largest city of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the first ten days of the sacred month of Zilhaj were chosen to celebrate a fashion week.
Much like the month of Ramzan is known as springtime for good deeds, so are the first ten days of Zilhaj also very important, compared to normal days, in accruing the blessings of piety. But we chose these days to spread obscenity and vulgarity in the name of fashion. This transformation of a time specially designated for the worship of Allah and doing good deeds, into a Fashion Week in the Islamic homeland of Pakistan, invited action neither from any government organization nor from any other responsible person. And that too, a Fashion Week that seemed like a competition about shedding clothes.
Seeing the highlights of this contest of immodesty and vulgarity on the television screen, I began to doubt my own Muslim-ness and the reason for the creation of Pakistan became blurred in my mind. The women that God had ordered to be in purdah while leaving their houses, could be seen participating half-nude in the fashion show. And those men who had been ordered to lower their gazes, were playing the role of spectators in these displays of immodesty. This show of immodesty was considered very successful and those participating in it expressed the hope that this vulgarity would continue and also that Pakistan can earn a lot of money from the success of the fashion industry. May God protect us from such success and such wealth. Amen.
The grief is not over how a small Westernized minority is out to destroy our religious and social values in this way. But the real sadness is over how, despite the clear instructions of Allah and His Prophet (PBUH), and despite the promise of the Constitution of Pakistan that an environment based on religious values and Islamic teachings will be created in Pakistan so that Muslims can live their lives according to the Quran and Sunnah, there is no one to stop those making fun of Islamic values. I don’t know who allowed such a fashion show to be held. This trend of fashion shows and catwalks began in Pakistan a few years ago and because of a lack of any controls, has gone, as in the West and India, towards obscenity.
Despite seeing this vulgarity on television screens, nobody condemned it and neither was there any protest. No ruler spoke about it and neither did any opposition leader. The Islamic [sic] parties and their leaders also remained silent, and parliament remained as insensate as the administration. If President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani are unable to see all this, what reasons have compelled Mian Nawaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Imran Khan, Syed Munawwar Hassan and Maulana Fazlur Rehman to keep silent? Why is the higher judiciary not taking suo moto notice of this vulgarity? Why is Pakistan’s media unable to fathom this evil as evil? At least I don’t have the answers to these questions.
What I am really amazed at is that in a city such as Karachi, where most of the population is educated and politically aware, not even one person came on to the streets in peaceful protest against this vulgarity. If our politicians, parliament, government, judiciary, media and masses are so insensate, we will definitely touch the extremes of moral degeneration like the West. In any case, we don’t have anything left other than shame and modesty and moral and social values. These are the values that raise us above the West. If today we do not guard them and give ourselves to the wind to take us wherever it chooses, we will be completely destroyed.
The current silence and insensitivity is very painful. I wish that we would realize that if today we remain silent about this obscenity and vulgarity because the girls and women performing in fashion shows and abhorrent TV commercials are not our own daughters, then remember that tomorrow, the place of these girls and women could be taken by the daughter, sister, wife or mother of one of today’s spectators or other members of an insensate society and its responsible people. And they will be doing the catwalk half-naked in front of thousands of people.”
Don’t forget to send Jang and Abbasi some words of appreciation for safeguarding our values.
Cross Posted from Cafe Pyala. Written by XYZ.